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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 665

Papers of Mary Catherine Bateson, 1954-2004 (inclusive), 1975-2001 (bulk)


Meeting and project files, writing-related material, records for the Institute for Intercultural Studies, and professional correspondence of writer and cultural anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson.


  • Creation: 1954-2004
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1975-2001

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Written permission required for access until January 1, 2030. During the donor's lifetime, researchers must seek the written permission of the donor. After the donor's death, permission for access to restricted materials must be sought in writing from her daughter, Sevanne Kassarjian. Permission for access to restricted material does not include permission to photocopy or permission to quote, which must be sought separately.

Folder #19.5 is closed until January 1, 2051.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Mary Catherine Bateson retains all intellectual property rights for published and unpublished materials in her collection during her lifetime. After her death, these rights transfer to her daughter, Sevanne Kassarjian. Rights to the unpublished material will transfer to the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library upon Ms. Kassarjian's death.

Prior to 2030, once permission for access has been obtained, readers may published brief quotations (250 words or fewer in any one publication) of prose (not poetry) from the documents in the collection with the prior written permission of the director of the Schlesinger Library.

Copying. Permission to photocopy materials from restricted material must be sought from Mary Catherine Bateson, and, after her death, from Sevanne Kassarjian until 2030, after which time such permission is no longer required and papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


18.35 linear feet ((44 file boxes) plus 9 photograph folders, electronic records)

These papers contain meeting and project files, writing-related material, records for the Institute for Intercultural Studies, and correspondence of writer and cultural anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson. Original folder titles are in quotation marks.

Series I, PROFESSIONAL, 1954-2004 (#1.1-22.6, PD.1-PD.5, E.1), contains material related to Bateson's professional life, including conferences and projects, teaching, writing-related files, and correspondence. Files are arranged in alphabetical order and chronologically within. Original folder titles are in quotation marks. The conferences, engagements, and projects files contain agendas, informational notices, papers presented by Bateson, and notes. Material is arranged in Bateson's original order; material may be filed by organization name, conference title, or location city. Separate folders were listed if there was substantial material on an event/organization or specifically singled out by Bateson. Correspondence also follows Bateson's original order, with folders on individuals followed by organizations in alphabetical order. Correspondence refers to Bateson's books; the death of mother Margaret Mead; questions regarding her mother; Bateson's reviews of writings by others; requests to present papers or to teach; etc. Teaching files contain syllabi, tests, correspondence, and papers from classes Bateson taught. There are also a few Mead class syllabi. Bateson's web site is being captured periodically as part of Harvard University Library's Web Archive Collection (WAX). The writing-related files rarely contain the works themselves, but include publisher correspondence; book reviews; notes; cover art; footnotes; publicity; and fan mail as well as drafts; short stories; reviews written on other's work; and op-eds.

Series II, INSTITUTE FOR INTERCULTURAL STUDIES, 1955-2004 (#22.7-44.16, PD.6-PD.9, E.2), contains board of director member files, annual meeting minutes, Mead Centennial material, and general administration files for the Institute for Intercultural Studies (IIS). The organization was established in 1944 by Margaret Mead to support and encourage research in the social sciences. During her lifetime, the IIS supported the field research of Mead and her associates, furnishing financial aid to young scholars to encourage field research, writing, and publication. After Mead's death in 1978, the IIS continued in the same tradition, with Bateson as president, a role she held for thirty years. From 1997 to 2001, the IIS directed its efforts toward the centennial year of Mead's birth, 2001, with programs, special events, and conferences, some of which were sponsored by other organizations. This series contains material generated by IIS beginning in 1978. All pre-1978 material is in the Margaret Mead papers and South Pacific Ethnographic Archives at the Library of Congress. This series is arranged in three subseries.

Subseries A, Board of directors, 1955-2003 (#22.7-26.15), contains individual board member files; annual meeting files including minutes, memos, by-laws, treasurer and secretary's reports, and notes; and advisory and executive committee files. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Subseries B, Margaret Mead Centennial, 1995-2004 (#27.1-36.2, PD.6), contains material on partner organizations in centennial activities; fundraising files focusing on individuals, organizations, and grant applications; work committee meeting minutes and related to prepare for the celebrations; Mead2001 Award recipient information and planning sessions; and web page preparation and execution. In April 1996, the IIS adopted a plan to commemorate Margaret Mead's centenary. The IIS celebrated this event by emphasizing the human capacity to imagine and work toward a positive future. During the years leading up to December 16, 2001, the hundredth anniversary of Mead's birth, the IIS concentrated its resources on three kinds of activities: enhancing public understanding of the processes of change through scholarship and the media as well as by making Mead's own thinking more widely available; encouraging local citizen activism, through "Mead2001 Awards" administered by the IIS and Whole Earth magazine; and working with other groups and organizations ranging from major universities, libraries and museums to neighborhoods and school committees using the Mead2001 themes in their own programming. The centennial celebration led to multiple conferences around the world; the Margaret Mead stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service as part of its Celebrate the Century series; the official web site; newsletter "Notes from the Field"; and the reissue of some twenty books by Mead, new publications, and was also the stimulus for a new generation of researchers. Files are arranged in alphabetical order by folder title.

Subseries C, General, 1973-2004 (#36.3-44.16, PD.7-PD.9, E.2), contains clippings; correspondence; fundraising and contribution material; research grant files which include applications, correspondence and final reports for award winners; and grant committee meeting files with grantee lists, ranking sheets, and reports. Files are arranged in alphabetical order by folder title and chronologically within.

A selection of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].


Writer and cultural anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson was born in New York City in 1939, the daughter of anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. A Radcliffe graduate (B.A., 1960), she married J. Barkev Kassarjian in 1960 and earned her Ph.D. from Harvard in 1963. They have one daughter, Sevanne Margaret Kassarjian, born in 1969. Bateson was on the faculties of Harvard University, Brandeis University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, among others, before retiring in 2004 from George Mason University from her position as Clarence J. Robinson Professor in Anthropology and English. Bateson also served as Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Northern Iran and as Dean of the Faculty at Amherst College. She was president of the Institute for Intercultural Studies (IIS) for thirty years until 2009, when the organization was dissolved. Since 2006 she has been a Visiting Scholar at the Center on Aging & Work/Workplace Flexibility at Boston College and a consultant for the Lifelong Access Libraries Initiative of the Libraries for the Future. She is on multiple advisory boards including the National Center on Atmospheric Research and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Bateson has written and co-authored many books and articles including: With a Daughter's Eye: A Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson (1984); Composing a Life (1989); Peripheral Visions: Learning Along the Way (1994); Willing to Learn: Passages of Personal Discovery (2004); and Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom (2010).


The collection is arranged in two series:

  1. Series I. Professional, 1954-2004 (#1.1-22.6, PD.1-PD.5, E.1)
  2. Series II. Institute for Intercultural Studies, 1955-2004 (#22.7-44.16, PD.6-PD.9, E.2)
  3. ___Subseries A. Board of directors, 1955-2003 (#22.7-26.15)
  4. ___Subseries B. Margaret Mead Centennial, 1995-2004 (#27.1-36.2, PD.6)
  5. ___Subseries C. General, 1973-2004 (#36.3-44.16, PD.7-PD.9, E.2)

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2005-M35, 2005-M43, 2005-M50, 2006-M11

The papers of Mary Catherine Bateson were given to the Schlesinger Library by Mary Catherine Bateson in 2005 and 2006.

Processing Information

Processed: February 2011

By: Stacey Flatt with assistance from Su Ciampa

Bateson, Mary Catherine. Papers of Mary Catherine Bateson, 1954-2004 (inclusive), 1975-2001 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by a gift from the Radcliffe College Class of 1945.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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